Lake Hartwell Level Still Up

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

Despite two spillway releases last week and an increase in outflow over the weekend, Lake Hartwell remains over full pool.

As of late Monday, the lake stood at 664.6 feet above mean sea level, above full pool of 660 feet.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Spokesman Billy Birdwell said the Corps has stepped up its program of outflow from all three of the reservoir lakes in the Upper Savannah River Basin in an attempt to get them back down to full pool.

“We are bringing Thurmond down first, then we will bring down Russell and Hartwell Lake down last,” said Birdwell. “We will reduce the levels at Thurmond first, then gradually work our way up to Hartwell.”

Birdwell said the Corps is targeting outflows of 15,000 cubic feet per second for Lake Hartwell for the rest of the week, but adds that does not mean the spillways will be opening.

The Corps will be increasing its power production as a way to reduce the lake level.

According to Birdwell, the Corps kept the turbines at Hartwell Lake running over the weekend to get the lake level down.

“We were running over 13,000 cfs on Monday and normally we do not generate power on Saturdays and Sundays, but we did this weekend; 5,800 cfs on Saturday and 10,500 cfs on Sunday,” said Birdwell.

However, Birdwell said it will be a long time before Lake Hartwell is back down to that 660 number.

He said that is because the lake is still receiving significant inflows from its tributaries.

“On Monday, we actually had more inflow than outflow,” said Birdwell. “We had 13,500 cfs expected for inflow today and only 13, 100 cfs for outflows. Even though we are targeting 15,000 cfs outflows, we are still getting 10,000 cfs inflows or better for the rest of the week.”

Birdwell said that means the lake level will come down very slowly.